“Get in, fellows,” urged Torry. “We want to be sure to catch those chaps at Elmvale during the noon hour. They go home from the munition works for dinner, and we must talk with them then.”
Frenchy and Ikey and Seven Knott climbed into the tonneau and the car whizzed away, leaving the crowd of boys and girls, and a few adults, staring after them.
“By St. Patrick’s piper that played the last snake out of Ireland!” sighed Frenchy, ecstatically, “we never was of such importance since we was christened—hey, fellows?”
“Oi, oi!” murmured Ikey, wagging his head, “my papa don’t even suggest I should take out the orders to the customers no more. He does it himself, or he hires a feller to do it for him.
“Mind, now! Last night he closed the shop an hour early so’s to sit down with my mama and me and Aunt Eitel in the back room, after the kids was all in bed, and made me tell about all we’d done and seen. I tell you it’s great!”
“And before we began our hitch,” Al Torrance chuckled, as he expertly rounded a corner, “we were scarcely worth speaking to in Seacove. Now folks want to stop us on the street and tell us how much they think of us.”
“Gee!” exploded Frenchy, “I could eat candy and ice cream all day long if I’d let the kids spend money on me.”
“We’re sure some pumpkins,” drawled Whistler Morgan, dryly, sitting around in the front seat so he could talk with those in the rear. “I say, Hans!”
“Yep?” was Seven Knott’s reply.
“Do you really think we can get some of those fellows at Elmvale to go to the recruiting office and enlist?”
“Yep. You fellows can tell ’em. You can talk better’n I can.”
Seven Knott knew his shipboard duties thoroughly, and never was reprimanded for neglect of them. But since the four chums had known him well, the petty officer had been no conversationalist, that was sure.
“If this war was going to be won by talk, like some fellows in Congress seem to think,” Al Torrance once said, “Seven Knott wouldn’t have a chance. But it is roughnecks just like him that man the boats and shoot the guns that are going to show Kaiser Bill where he gets off—believe me!”
Elmvale was a factory town not more than six miles above Seacove. It was on the river, at the mouth of which was situated the little port in which were the homes of Whistler Morgan and his friends.
The biggest dam in the State, the Elmvale Dam, held back the waters of the river above the village; and below the dam were several big mills and factories that got their power from the use of the water.
On both sides of the stream, and around the cotton mills, the thread mills, and the munition factories, were built many little homes of the factory and mill hands. It had been pointed out by the local papers that these homes were in double peril at this time.
Guards were on watch night and day that ill-affected persons should not come into the district and blow up the munition factories. But there was a second and greater danger to the people of Elmvale.